WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – The Capitals had to say goodbye to a slew of players through free agency Friday, but perhaps none was tougher to let go of than forward Matt Hendricks, who they took a chance on three years ago by giving him his first opportunity to play regularly.
Hendricks, who’s played three seasons for the Caps, signed a 4-year deal with Nashville on the first day of free agency, where he’ll make roughly $1.85 million a year.
“Washington’s kind of like my first home,” Hendricks told Bill Rohland, in a heartfelt exit interview on 106.7 The Fan Friday.
“It was my first real spot where I got to be a player in the NHL, where I got to contribute every night, and it really feels like home to me,” Hendricks said. “So I’m leaving a great fan base, like a big family, like I said, but it’s a part of one of those things, when you’re playing in a sport that has a salary cap, you gotta pick and choose what guys are gonna play and what guys aren’t.”
When asked if the Caps were given a chance to match the Predators’ offer, Hendricks said he talked to GM George McPhee on multiple occasions to try to get something worked out.
“I understand the numbers,” Hendricks said. “And it’s just one of those things where there are instances where a player could probably try to get a match, but it just wasn’t going to happen in Washington this time around, just because of straight money issues.”
He says his wife is equally as sad about leaving the nation’s capital, and may not have the opportunity to meet new friends now that they have kids.
Caps fans were overwhelmingly supportive of Hendricks in his career move on Twitter, and certainly did their part to let him know how much he’ll be missed.
To that, Hendricks seemed sincerely grateful.
“I appreciate all your support, and all the support I got from everyone in D.C. over the years,” he said. “It’s been nothing but positive and I’m really going to miss you guys.”